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France takes action against British trawlers as tension escalates

Thursday, October 28th 2021 - 09:08 UTC
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A solution needs to be found before the conflict escalates even further A solution needs to be found before the conflict escalates even further

French naval authorities have detained one British trawler and issued a verbal warning against another for operating off its coast, the Maritime Ministry announced.

“This Wednesday, two English ships were fined during classic checks off Le Havre,” the French Government explained.

“The first did not comply spontaneously” and ”the second did not have a license to fish in our waters” and was “diverted to the quay and handed over to the judicial authority.“

The conflict over fishing rights between France and the United Kingdom was the result of Brexit. France claims its fishermen have not been issued with half the licences they are entitled to under the terms of the Brexit agreement.

The key to the dispute is that the accord stated that licenses would be renewed to trawlers with a record of English Channel operations. Hence, those fishermen who replaced their old boats with new ones are not eligible for licenses.

French officials have protested the decision last month by the UK and the Channel Island of Jersey to refuse dozens of French fishing boat licences to operate in their territorial waters, which they believe to be contrary to the post-Brexit agreement when the UK left the EU.

In this scenario, France has now released a list of sanctions that could apply from Nov. 2 if the row is not resolved:

- Banning British fishing vessels in some French ports
- Reinforcement of customs and hygiene controls
- Routine security checks on British vessels
- Reinforcement of controls on lorries to and from the UK

Tariffs on energy, customs, and access to ports are also among the measures the French Government may resort to, according to spokesman Gabriel Attal.

The measures targeting British fish exports would include ”systematic customs and sanitary checks on products brought to France and a ban on landing seafood“, Attal explained.

France ”will not let Britain wipe its shoes on the Brexit deal,“ he added.

France has been incensed by the rejection of French boats by Britain and the self-governing Channels Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, which depend on London for defence and foreign affairs.

The tension between France and the UK was also fueled by migration issues in addition to London's assisting Australia to purchase US nuclear submarine technology, due to which Canberra scrapped a mega-deal with France for conventional units.

France claims Britain and the Channel Islands have issued around 210 permanent licences for French boats to operate in their territorial waters, and that 240 have been rejected or await approval. Attal claimed France was missing ”almost 50 per cent of the licences that we have a right to“ under the deal on fishing agreed between Britain and the European Union in December last year.

Britain denies discriminating against French fishermen and says that overall ”98 per cent of fishing licences have been granted” to EU boats. This figure includes the roughly 1,700 licences issued to EU vessels to operate in more distant waters situated in the UK's exclusive economic zone, which extends 12-200 nautical miles from the coast.

But it is the licences for the coastal territorial waters that are the main source of tension. In June, furious French fishermen sailed to the main port on Jersey to demonstrate, prompting Britain to send two naval patrol boats to the area.

France has also threatened to cut the electricity supply to Jersey if a solution is not reached through dialogue.

Top Comments

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  • Pugol-H

    This is simply wrong, the agreement allows for the transfer of licences from old to new boat, but it must be a ‘like for like.’

    What you cannot do is transfer a license from a small boat to a big boat.

    And this the issue for only a very few cases.



    Oct 28th, 2021 - 09:17 pm 0
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